MAURITIUS SHOPPING FESTIVAL EXTRAVAGANZA FLAGGED OFF WITH CARNIVAL PARADE
Last weekend saw the long awaited launch of what will now become an annual event on Mauritius, a Shopping Fiesta Extravaganza, witnessed by the Seychelles Minister for Tourism and Culture the Hon. Alain St. Ange. His presence also puts an end to the spat caused by MTPAs Karl Mootoosamy, who initially tried to copy / paste the Seychelles Carnival idea, but was soon reined in by his political masters when it became apparent that he had caused a severe embarrassment to his country and brought MTPA into professional disrepute.
Mauritius tourism minister Michael Sik Yuen formally launched the Shopping Fiesta in the presence of his Deputy Prime Minister and other dignitaries, reminding the assembled crowd, which he later remarked on surprised him by the massive turnout, that Mauritius tourism was facing challenges and needed to increase visitor spending while also renewing efforts to promote the country better abroad.
Air Mauritius has alongside the month long festival offered an increased baggage allowance to permit for the goods purchased by visitors to be taken home without being charged an arm and a leg for over the limit baggage, and from reports received from the island it appears that the prices of participating malls and stores have indeed been significantly lowered, matching those in other world renowned shopping destinations like Dubai.
The shopping festival was kicked off with a parade comprising drummers from the Carnaval de Paris as well as dancers and performers from the Rio Carnival, adding colour to the event.
Seychelles Minister of Tourism St. Ange also used the opportunity to state: Mauritius has launched its own event in Calendar of Events of the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands Grouping. Seychelles has the annual Carnaval International de Victoria co-hosted this year by Seychelles & La Reunion and Madagascar and La Reunion have also put forward their own event which is now promoted by all the six islands of that region. I am in Mauritius in the spirit of solidarity and I bring greetings from Seychelles as I wish Mauritius all the success with its Shopping Fiesta signaling his continued lobbying effort to promote unique festivals and events across the Vanilla Islands to which other islands can sign on as co-hosts or else offer their mutual support and help market such programmes.
There was however criticism voiced amongst some locals as reflected in a series of mails received by this correspondent, and while some may appear genuinely concerned for the betterment of the event in coming years, others seem more deep rooted sentiments: The carnival itself seems to have been appreciated – with a bevy of beauty queens and scantily clad samba dancers that’s hardly surprising! – but there has been a lot of criticism about the organisation. "Quelle manque de serieux en terme d’organisation"; "Le carnaval etait sublime… mais l’organisation lamentable"; "nous n’avions rien vue, on rester bloquer dans un embouteillage monstre".
Remember, these are ordinary Mauritians, not cynical travel hacks. And from the pictures I have seen of the event, the crowd was overwhelmingly local; there seemed to be very few of the tourists the whole event was put on to attract.
I’m sure you know how that single road through Flic en Flac is narrow and can get jammed at the best of times, so the "embouteillage monstre" is hardly surprising.
"Much improvement is needed from the organisers concerning the security of the artists. The Brazilian artists could not perform at the end of the expected track as the public invaded the road, with some drunk person."
Surely issues the organizers will all take into account and try to improve on for 2013, when the second edition of Mauritius Shopping Fiesta will be held.
Mauritius will be present at all four upcoming events in the Seychelles, the ICTP Annual Meeting, the Routes Africa 2012 Conference, the RETOSA Board of Directors Meeting and the subsequent Vanilla Islands Group meeting, showing solidarity with their fellow Indian Ocean islands as well as using the opportunity to promote themselves as a destination. Well done Mauritius, way to go!